There is no ultimate definition of “Social Media”. Heidi Cohen has collected 30 of them. Let’s go with Wikipedia:

“The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.”

For the last few years, most brands have focused on “the use of web-based and mobile technologies”. This focus has led to the advent of data technologies/analytics, metrics and new definitions of influencers. Brands are now measuring Facebook “likes”, number of Twitter followers, the amount of people that circled their presence on Google+ and the check-ins on Foursquare.

Why? Are you trying to sell Facebook “likes” or your product?

Most brands have forgotten the second part of the definition: “…turn communication into an interactive dialogue”.

“Likes” and followers have nothing to do with your brand, the interactive dialogue is all about your brand and its customers.

Brands need to focus less on technologies and platforms, and encourage interactive dialogue: Reviews, discussions, recommendation and debates.

The paradox: Hard metrics are less valuable than soft metrics.

Hard metrics are quantifiable but they often have no implied quality. Qualitative metrics should be the focus of your future marketing efforts. When you ask people to “like” you or follow you on Twitter, you generate one interaction. When you develop shareable content, you generate a flood of interactions. A discount on Foursquare generates one engagement (if you’re lucky), but it ends right there. A contest on Facebook asking customers to write the most creative review that will be featured in your store (Screen at register, Menu, Receipt) creates an interactive dialogue.

An Instagram contest for your store.

A poetry contest on Twitter.

Launch a campaign to crown the newest Foursquare mayor with an inauguration party.

Let your creativity go wild and make it extremely relevant to your business.

Don’t fall in the trap to adjust your marketing to the platform. Interactive dialogue happens outside of platforms; don’t forget print, OOH or in-store displays to encourage interaction. Some things can be blasted out through email or social channels. Most people cherish things more when the content is more personal and intimate.

Adjust the platforms to your marketing.